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5/21//17 Sixth Sunday in Easter - Fr. Damian

This is a season of many local festivals that celebrate the summer, the blossoms that promise a harvest or the beginning of summertime as the seasons faithfully provide a rhythm for our lives. When so many things change in our lives so unexpectedly, the great turning of the seasons reminds us of the fidelity of the Creator God.

 

In today's Gospel reading, the Lord gives three promises of fidelity to the Apostles and to each of us.

"I will send you another Advocate" (some translations say Counselor or Paraclete). The Lord is speaking, of course, of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we see ads for expensive items which carry a small disclaimer at the bottom of the page, "batteries are not included."

Jesus did not give us a Gospel to follow, a call to conversion, a way to live our life, only to say, "By the way, you're on your own; batteries not included." Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be the energy and staying power in our life of faith.

 

That is why, in the first reading, the Apostles were sent to the people of Samaria to give them the Holy Spirit so that their faith would not depend on temporary emotion.

 

This Holy Spirit is manifested not primarily in extraordinary gifts but in the ordinary gifts of fidelity, prayer and conscience that enable us to live out our faith day by day.

"I will not leave you orphans. I will come back to you." Remember these words of Jesus are at the Last Supper. Jesus is here referring to His return to the Apostles at Easter.

To us today, this promise of the Lord is kept in the Eucharist when Jesus comes to us in His Risen Presence under the form of bread and wine to be our strength and to give us a pledge of eternal life with Him.

The Eucharist is Jesus' fulfillment of that promise to us. Because of the Eucharist, we are not orphans, never alone, no matter what we may face. Promise two is the gift of the Eucharist where Jesus remains with us.

 

"If you keep My commandments, My Father and I will reveal Ourselves to you and come to you."

The presence of Christ becomes more vivid to us as we follow the Gospel. Our failure to follow the Gospel is like a spiritual tumor or a spiritual cataract where our faith is obstructed or clouded. As we cleanse and clarify our life, we start to experience the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways.

The Lord gives this promise not only to the Apostles but to the Church as a whole.

We need to make sure that our life is faithful to Jesus.

These days, we read in the papers about the need for reform.

 

The Church always needs to reform because we can always be more faithful to the Gospel. In fact, the Advent and Lenten seasons are periods of reform built into our annual Church calendar.

Reform is good and healthy for the Church and for individuals because when we begin to cleanse and clarify our lives, we start to see the Lord more clearly in our life and enter more deeply into the mysterious divine life of the Trinity.

In a wonderful image after today's Gospel, Jesus promises those who are faithful to the Gospel that "We (that is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit) will come to him and make Our home with him."

We have three promises of Jesus that are fundamental to Christian spirituality and to the life of the Church. First, the promise of the Holy Spirit to energize and sustain our fidelity to Christ. Second, the promise of Jesus' return to the Apostles at Easter and to us in the Eucharist. Third, the promise of sharing God's life more powerfully now and forever as we cleanse and clarify our lives.

 

We will celebrate the fulfillment of each of these promises over the next four weeks. This coming Thursday is the Ascension. After that is Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is followed by Trinity Sunday, the feast of the mysterious life of God in which we can have a part. Last comes Corpus Christi, the feast of the Eucharist.

 

Festivals are wonderful celebrations of the bounty and beauty of nature. These words of Jesus carry the promise of a great spiritual bounty for each of us and for the Church through the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist and the life of grace that can be ours today.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus gives every one of us the promise of a magnificent spiritual life and destiny and, as the next four Sundays will show, with the promises of Jesus "the batteries are included."

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